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Should we be paying overtime to employee who receives after-hours phone calls?

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in Human Resources,Overtime Labor Laws

Q. One of our office managers regularly receives after-hours calls from our landlord about building management issues. Are we required to pay her overtime compensation for the resulting hours she works over eight in one day or over 40 in one week?

A. One of the most costly lawsuits employers face involves misclassification of nonexempt employees as though they were exempt from California’s overtime compensation laws.

There are many factors to keep in mind when making the decision of whether your employees are exempt or nonexempt.

Generally, to be classified as exempt, most California employees must customarily and regularly exercise discretion and independent judgment in their jobs. In addition, exempt employees, generally, must earn a minimum monthly salary of no less than two times California’s minimum wage.

The federal and state requirements differ with regard to the application of exemptions to employees.

There are nine categories of exemption from overtime requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). California’s Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) Orders recognize eight categories of exemption (with a ninth category added by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2012 opinion on pharmaceutical sales representatives). These include, among others, the executive exemption, the learned professional exemption, the creative professional exemption and the administrative exemption.

An office manager might be exempt from the overtime laws under the administrative exemption. This exemption applies to employees who:

  1. Are paid at least twice the minimum wage
  2. Perform administrative work, defined as office or nonmanual work “directly related to management policies or general business operations of his/her employer or his/her employer’s customers”
  3. Have primary duties that involve administrative work
  4. Discharge those duties by “customarily and regularly exercising discretion and independent judgment.”

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